(Earlier post: Evangelical Pastors heed political call for 2012)
This Sunday, more than 400 pastors will be using their pulpits to preach politics and challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s regulations that restrict religious leaders from endorsing candidates and discussing policies with their congregations.
Oct. 2 is Pulpit Freedom Sunday, and this year Alliance Defense Fund and its supporters have quadrupled its participation from last year. Last year, 100 pastors committed to the event, but this year, registration lists are exploding, with 475 pastors who will participate in the event.
On Pulpit Freedom Day, registered pastors are encouraged to videotape themselves speaking to their congregations about the Scripture, politics and political candidates, and mail those videos to the IRS. ADF then stands ready to evaluate IRS complaints and legally represent those churches or ministries whose 501(c)(3) nontaxable status has been threatened in court.
For some, talking about political issues in church may seem like nothing new. But according to IRS guidelines, it could cause a church or Bible ministry to lose its nontaxable status.
The IRS’ Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations states, “Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violates the [section 501(c)(3)] prohibition of political campaign activity” and could result in the revocation of the church’s or organization’s tax-exempt status.
“We believe the IRS regulation is a dumb one; it ought to be done away with,” said Richard Land, pastor and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “It violates the First Amendment.” (full article)
Also in the news today,
One of the most important religious cases disputed in years, involving the separation of church and state, will soon come before the U.S. Supreme Court. The legal battle could change whether or not the federal government can dictate or interfere with church authority.
Arguments in the case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, will be heard Oct. 5. The case centers on “ministerial exception,” which is a law that has been on the books for some 40 years. This “exception” protects churches and other religious groups from discrimination claims against them including issues on hiring and firing employees.
One of the most important arguments that will come before the Supreme Court in the case is whether the government should be allowed to decide which duties are “religious,” and which are not.
Douglas Laycock, the attorney on record representing the Lutheran Church, told The Christian Post that this legal battle is unprecedented and could impact every church in the nation. (full article)
- We publicly fret about continued religious freedom; freedom (we claim) is needed to ‘preach the gospel’ of Jesus Christ. But we’re willing to risk that freedom for politics.
- We want favor so as to continue benefiting from tax exemptions; the 501(c)(3) nontaxable status . But many are demanding an end to the separation of Church and State.
Can’t speak to what is occurring around the world but it’s obvious the Church in America is suffering from a full-blown identity crisis. As a whole it no longer recognizes ‘who’ it is or what its purpose is. AND most importantly, it has become detached from Jesus, who is “…the head of the body, the church.”
And brothers and sisters, detached from the ‘Head’ there is no life to be found…